January 29, 1974
Honorable Board of Supervisors
Los Angeles County
383, Hall of Administration
Los Angeles, California 90012
APPOINTMENT OF COUNTY DEPARTMENT HEADS
The Economy and Efficiency Commission has observed that five out of six of your recent appointments to department head positions were to outsiders. We do not question your Board's evaluation of the particular individuals involved or your decision on these appointments. We are concerned, however, that a serious morale problem is developing among County managers.
The fact that your Board is now able to examine the qualifications of competent outsiders for these positions is due to the recommendation which we made, and which your Board and the voters approved in 1972, to amend the County Charter to allow for such outside competition. We believed at that time, and we still believe, that the County should be able to consider qualified outsiders as well as County employees for these positions.
We have received information from individual County managers, however, that some of them, particularly the middle managers at division level, are now beginning to look actively for positions outside the County. Their actions based upon their conclusion that they have no chance for promotion to department head assignments in Los Angeles County.
If internal managers, in any organization, come to the conclusion that they have no chance at top level promotion because the policy is prejudiced against them, the result can only lead to a serious exodus of qualified managers. Unfortunately, when this happens, it is usually the most competent of these managers who leave, since they are the managers who can obtain jobs elsewhere. For this reason, most organizations, private or public, typically follow a policy of promoting from within--unless the superiority of an outside candidate or some internal problem or circumstance requires an exception.
Again we emphasize that we are not criticizing your recent appointments. We do believe, however, that your Board should act to dispel the notion which is rapidly spreading among County managers that only outsiders will be seriously considered for top level positions and to make it clear that those County managers who are qualified will be considered as principal candidates for promotion to department head positions.
Very truly yours,
MAURICE RENE CHEZ